Gravel World Championships – Ferrand-Prévot, an « additional rainbow » to make history even more?

His season is already heroic. It can become stratospheric this Saturday. After a more « delicate » year 2021, despite a new title of European champion, but above all marked by her failure at the Tokyo Olympics which she concluded in 10th place after a fall and a puncture, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot set the record straight in 2022. And how.

Because yes, this 2022 vintage was obviously that of the buyout for « PFP ». Quietly, the French is in the process of signing an absolutely XXL season. Sacred in cross-country in Les Gets, in cross-country short-track and in marathon mountain biking, vice-champion of Europe in mountain biking behind her young compatriot Loana Lecomte, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot devours everything in her path, or almost.

And it’s obviously not enough for the Habs who are preparing, like all the followers, to discover the Gravel World Championships. « I’m still a World Championship girl! But I’m not a Games girl“, had confided the champion to in an interview with L’Equipe last August.

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cannibal and pioneer

First athlete, men and women alike, to have been crowned in the three flagship disciplines of the « little queen » which are road, cyclo-cross and mountain biking, Ferrand-Prévot will be able to rely on his rich experience of the three terrains to understand the Italian gravel. Already crowned with twelve world titles on all terrains, the « cannibal » knows the recipe for success.

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If she does not start as the favorite this Saturday in Vicenza, the native of Reims intends to bravely play her luck on the transalpine gravel roads. Like he usually does. « I need to put myself in danger. It’s often not pleasant, it can even be scary, but that’s how I work“, she commented, always to our colleagues.

Difficult to contradict the current Team BMC runner, especially when the machine is launched on D-Day. Accustomed to blows and making history since his arrival with the big boys, the Habs can hope to do it again this weekend on this new hunt for the iridescent jersey.

Pauline Ferrand-Prévot during the European Mountain Bike Championships

Credit: Getty Images

To the good memories of the road?

With a relatively flat course, made up of more than 70% of paths similar to those of the Strade Bianche, but with a very technical appetizer in the first kilometers and alternating coatings, this first World gravel race is an enigma for a good number of competitors who came to rub shoulders with the exercise.

Triple cyclo-cross world champion, qualification organizer Erwin Vervecken nevertheless blew Velonews that this premiere would be « similar to what you can find on road races« . Enough to offer beautiful iridescent perspectives to runners like Elisa Longo-Borghini, triple Italian champion and winner of the last women’s Paris-Roubaix.

It therefore remains to be seen whether Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, world champion on the road in 2014, has lost none of her pedal stroke for this very hybrid format, but resolutely close to the asphalt. His last outing on the road dates back to the 2021 French Championships, in Epinal, as part of his preparation for the Tokyo Games. « PFP » had signed a surprising 12th place there, three years after having officially abandoned the road for mountain biking. A performance all in all carrying hopes at the dawn of attacking these unprecedented Worlds.

Ferrand-Prévot: « The goal of my career is to bring back an Olympic medal »

Ineos, a new stage and a new showcase to (still) change dimension?

Always behind on the road, Ferrand-Prévot should continue to abandon the latter for the coming months, even if she had announced a desire to return to it in Bistrot Vélo in 2020. These Worlds should serve as a new launch pad for the priority objective of the Habs, namely the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. already done in recent seasons.

And what could be better than an ambitious and motivated training to make it shine to better prepare for these Games at home? In recent days, the British press has insistently announced the arrival of Ferrand-Prévot on the side of INEOS Grenadiers, determined to follow in the footsteps of the other formations of the peloton by launching his women’s team.

Sir Dave Brailsford’s team currently has « only » Tom Pidcock for mountain biking and would be more than ever inclined to make the Frenchwoman, under contract with BMC for two seasons, the flagship of its project among the ladies. With the assurance of benefiting from a leading star in the discipline to make a name for himself on the cross-country or even cyclo-cross terrain that Ferrand-Prévot plans to find again this winter.

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